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The 1994 statement permitting girl servers was a mistaken tactical retreat which led to a fall in priestly vocations. It’s time to withdraw it

Undoing the damage will take time: the sooner the Church starts to clear up the mess, the better

By on Thursday, 25 August 2011

The Holy Father looks on as a female server presents his zuchetto

The Holy Father looks on as a female server presents his zuchetto

The rector of the Catholic Cathedral of Phoenix, Arizona, has decided that girls will no longer be allowed as altar servers (though they will continue elsewhere in the diocese). His reason is simple: he thinks that an all-male sanctuary promotes vocations to the priesthood. “The connection between serving at the altar and priesthood is historic,” he says: “it is part of the differentiation between boys and girls, as Christ established the priesthood by choosing men. Serving at the altar is a specifically priestly act.” I’m not sure, to be pedantic, that that’s entirely orthodox (in the context of the Mass, only the priest himself performs specifically priestly acts), but one knows exactly what he means: what the server does is intimately related to the Eucharistic action and can be seen as an intrinsic part of it: the server is a kind of extension of the priest himself; if there were no servers, the priest would do what they do. According to Fr Lankeit, 80 to 95 percent of priests served as altar boys.

The question is, why shouldn’t that happen when there are also girl servers? There are two reasons: firstly because the causal link between servers and priestly vocations is weakened if some or most of the servers in the sanctuary are excluded from it. But secondly because as soon as girls appear, the supply of altar boys tends simply to dry up.

The first time this occurred to me was in the house of friends with whom I was staying in France. One of the guests at dinner one evening was Archbishop André Vingt-Trois of Tours (now Cardinal Archbishop of Paris). The subject of conversation at one point was the way in which, in the local Parish Church, presumably in an attempt to involve women in the celebration of the Mass, not only were all the readers women but so also were all the servers girls; my wife (not I) compared it to a farmyard, with the priest as the cock strutting about in the middle of a flock of hens. Archbishop Vingt-Trois said that the priest may have had no choice over the all-girls serving team: “Once the girls arrive, he said, the boys disappear: you can’t see them for dust” (his explanation was much more graphic in French). And he was adamant that though there were, of course other factors contributing to the decline in priestly vocations, the decline in the number of all-male sanctuaries was certainly one of them.

I suspect, though there’s no way to prove this, that many if not most Catholics, once they think about it, will have the feeling that this is either obviously true, or at the very least a plausible hypothesis. For what it’s worth, the US website Catholic Answers carried out a poll in which they asked the question “does having girl altar boys help with vocations to the priesthood?”

The answers were as follows:

YES, Girl Altar Boys help Vocations To The Priesthood: 2.98%
NO, Girl Altar Boys don’t Help Vocations To The Priesthood: 64.29%
Girl Altar Boys, Have No Effect At All On Vocations To The Priesthood: 32.74%
Voters: 168

It’s a pretty small sample, of course: but I would be surprised if it’s not true that almost nobody thinks that girl servers help vocations to the priesthood, that of the remainder, about two thirds think it doesn’t help, and another third thinks it makes no difference. If the question had been asked differently: if the question had been “does an all-male sanctuary foster vocations to the priesthood?”, I suspect that more than that two thirds would have replied “yes”, since historically it has observably done so. In the US, only one diocese now restricts serving at the altar to boys and men, Lincoln, Nebraska, and it is apparently the case that vocations there are higher than elsewhere.

The late Pope was opposed to the practice, and didn’t allow it in his own diocese of Rome: so why on his watch, in 1994, was the rule that only men and boys could serve at the altar (which had been firmly reimposed by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul himself) relaxed? It’s a puzzler. Some say it was inevitable since, especially in the US, it was already being widely defied: but all kinds of things the Church is against are indulged in defiantly by disobedient Catholics, and the Church quite rightly doesn’t give an inch. One theory is that it was a tactical retreat to avoid legal action. As the writer David L Sonnier explains it,

Take a moment to recall the circumstances under which this practice was allowed. We lived in a hostile political climate in 1994; the politicians in Washington were condemning the Catholic Church for not ordaining women, and ridiculing the Church for Her stand against abortion. It seemed that according to these critics at the highest level of the Clinton administration, the Catholic Church would not be qualified to address the issue of abortion until women were ordained.

In 1994 a document from the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts gave some room for the novel practice of “female altar servers” under political pressure from the U.S., but nevertheless insisted that “the obligation to support groups of altar boys will always remain…” due, of course, to the relationship between service at the altar and future vocations. Has there been any such support for “groups of altar boys?”

Well, no: of course there hasn’t, because as soon as the girls appeared, the “groups of altar boys”, as Archbishop Vingt-Trois put it, couldn’t be seen for dust. But could the document be withdrawn? It won’t be easy: there are already so many girl servers. But they tend to disappear when they grow up. And though no bishop may impose them on his priests, he does have the right to forbid them. This is the paradox; he may not impose girls—but he still may impose boys, as may any of his priests.

And this could be the time to start: radical feminism is much less of a threat than it was, and may be confronted more readily than it could, say, in the US in the eighties. I remember vividly arranging my notes before delivering a lecture on feminist theology in the General (Episcopalian) Seminary in New York, in 1983. I was approached by a male seminarian, who said simply, “Oh Dr Oddie, I just wanted to tell you, since I know your views, how much we admire your courage in coming here to explain them”. “I need courage”, I replied, slightly alarmed: “Oh yes”, he said, and disappeared. And so it proved: I was heckled repeatedly, but I think I gave as good as I got, and the evening was an exhilarating one in the end.

The church has not entirely given in on this, and little by little, girl servers could be phased out: a final date could perhaps be announced for this to be achieved, diocese by diocese, parish by parish. The tradition is still solidly there, beneath the surface. As David L Sonnier puts it,

Let’s take it one point at a time. First of all, the Holy Father does not allow Girl Altar Boys within his own Diocese of Rome. That should be enough to give pause to a number of people who currently see nothing wrong with the practice.…

Second, this practice of placing girls at the altar has absolutely nothing to do with Vatican II and was condemned in the strongest of terms twice following the council. In 1970 Pope Paul VI said in Liturgicae Instaurationes, “In conformity with norms traditional in the Church, women (single, married, religious), whether in churches, homes, convents, schools, or institutions for women, are barred from serving the priest at the altar.”

And in 1980 Pope John Paul II stated in Inaestimabile Donum, “There are, of course, various roles that women can perform in the liturgical assembly: these include reading of the Word of God and proclaiming the intentions of the Prayer of the Faithful. Women are not, however, permitted to act as altar servers.”

That is the tradition of the Church to which we should now return. To begin with, that 1994 statement by the Pontifical Council for the Interpretation of Legislative Texts (I bet you’d never heard of them) should be simply withdrawn. Why not? Its issue was a huge mistake, whose consequences have been disastrous: It’s time now to begin to repair the damage. It may take some time: so the sooner we start the better. Any priest who reads this can start on Sunday: a bishop could get on the phone today.

  • Anonymous

    Nonsense.  I agree with Ben Trovato.  We must return to the original way of doing things.
    There is no place for girls in  the sanctuary during a traditional Latin Mass.

  • guest

    Some have even had girlfriends, went to rock concerts and lost their virginity….Those priests that I have met, who were alter boys, knew what they wanted to from an early age and have no problem with alter girls, female servers or talking to women.

  • Anonymous

    The facts are well known. The 1983 Code of Canon Law, 230.2 confirmed that lay people, including women, could perform liturgical functions. Some priests interpreted this to include altar serving. You say that they were being disobedient, they would say that they were making a valid interpretation of a canon. In June 1992 the appropriate authority in Rome confirmed that priests who allowed female servers were not breaking a Law of the Church. In a meeting on 11 July 1992 with Archbishop Fagiolo. the Pope agreed about this. The Congregation for Divine Worship issued a decree confirming all this, with the express authority of the Pope, on 15 March 1994.

    Neither during 1992 nor 1994 was Pope John Paul in poor health.In June 1992 the Pope visited Angola. In March 1994 he was active in Rome guiding the African Synod. So the part of the story that can be checked, namely that the Pope was ill or in hospital at the time of the announcement can be shown to be false. If a story depends upon a falsehood, and then depends upon a conspiracy and a weak and ineffective Pope quite unlike the one known to everyone else, then it sounds like something from Dan Brown.

  • guest

    Well if the youth are drawn to Christ and are not finding that the RCC is giving them what they need, they will go most likely find themselves at the local Baptist Church, with charismatic worship, interesting sermons, friends and to be driven to serve God in a different way. The Baptists do not teach contraception is a sin either, which is another appealling fact to 16-24 year olds.  Abandon the youth and they will abandon the church, they always do. The charismatic churches are full of Catholics that have found they don’t have a place where in the church they grew up in. This shows you have no idea what the young like.

  • Anonymous

    I showed that your repeated comment that “no one has a right to serve the altar” completely misses the point, so you choose to avoid that issue by bringing up an irrelevancy.

    Even in the years between Trent and Vatican II altar servers were almost always boys or men without any minor orders. In 1972 the minor order of Acolyte was abolished, and replaced by a ministry of acolyte, which is specifically for lay people, although in practice it is usually only given to seminarians. So your latest comment is totally beside the point.

  • MollieB

    In my own parish we have a scandalous situation in which a good looking young woman who has served on the altar for many years is conducting an affair with one of the priests. This is open knowledge among many and is an obvious danger when women serve.  I think that if we must have girl servers, which I deplore because of the loss of boys and thus of vocations, then they should not serve past the age of eleven.

  • MollieB

    That’s just plain silly. No-one said we are unclean!

  • MollieB

    That’s just plain silly. No-one said we are unclean!

  • Rosacarmel

    It is not because women are inferior or unclean, but because women are the keepers of virtue and to be cherished. As veiled, just like the tabernacle, the woman is a type of the sanctuary, the safe place; and the men are to be the sacraficers, taking the active role and getting the blood on thier hands and taking the bigger responsability. It gives a woman credit to be barred from the act of having to reinact the sacrafice of the cross. A woman’s heart feels more keenly the pangs of sorrow at such an event.

  • EditorCT

    How terribly sad it is that you have to attend and promote these huge events, with thousands of people present, young people, un-catechized for the most part, in order to attend adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  And how shocking that it is something new, something massively different to you. Some of us grew up with regular trips to our local parish for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament.  It was routine, part of the devotional life of our parishes.  We didn’t have to go to Madrid.

    Indeed, my only experience of these huge events is the papal Mass I attended in Glasgow when Pope John Paul II visited (1982, I think.)  All through the Mass, there were people around me picnicking, chatting and laughing and paying scant attention to the tiny figure of the Pope – a mere speck on the landscape, high above us – let alone adoring the Blessed Sacrament.

    MJCarroll, a lot of what you consider to be the outpourings of the Holy Spirit at the events you describe, is nothing more than emotionalism.  I can say this because the proof of the pudding …  To date, all the objective data shows that young people, including those who populate these massive gatherings with gusto, do not “agree” with the Pope on all the key moral issues of controversy in our times.

    I’d be more impressed to learn that these young people were praying a daily rosary than attending one of these mass rallies (pun intended) or attending Benediction (adoration of the Blessed Sacrament) in their local parishes and/or badgering their parish priest to obey the Pope and make the Traditional Latin Mass available for their spiritual benefit; for that is THE way to adore Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. It’s the way saints and martyrs have adored Our Lord century after century until 1962, when, we’re asked to believe, the Holy Spirit paid us a visit, for the very first time.

    You do have a point when you say that some of the “charistmatic” types do come out of this smelling of “orthodoxy” but only in terms of moral issues such as abortion – not contraception, curiously; somewhat pic ‘n mix and often papolatrists (of the opinion that they cannot criticise a pope without being disloyal)  They’re not to be found, generally speaking, breaking down the local presbytery door asking for Corpus Christi processions to be re-instated (the traditional way of publicly adoring the Blessed Sacrament, on the streets) or campaigning for the restoration of the Traditional Latin Mass.  “Orthodox” yes, up to a point. 

    Finally, rest assured that there is regular adoration of the  Blessed Sacrament in traditional chapels the world over.  In fact, there is a day of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament every week in an SSPX chapel somewhere in the world. We had one in Glasgow only last week.  Wonderful.   Ask  your “bishop in good standing” to arrange that in a diocese near you.  Then wait… and wait… and wait…  Still, it was worth a try.

  • EditorCT

    Allow me to thank you for thanking me – something of a novelty for moi. And don’t get me wrong. I know what you were doing. You were trying to be nice – “you’re entitled to your opinion” is a pleasant way of rounding off an excellent post to spare your opponent’s feelings; I understand that.  I just don’t DO “nice” and have long learned to just sock it to them and if they don’t like it, that’s one less Christmas card to send.

    So, thanks again croixmom. I like you!


  • EditorCT

    You’re wrong.  Your post is not just “disrespectful” – it’s downright nasty.  

    Your parents made a very poor job of bringing you up -  take my advice and forget the flowers next Mother’s Day…

  • peishan

    Bob, of course I’m not serious that the Holy Spirit must have XY chromosome. It’s absolutely heretical and insanel. I was just trying to explain using extremely limited human capabilities and genetic knowledge as a response to your comments, “What a circular argument…Is God male, too?”. Jesus always calls God His Father and God the Father always calls Jesus His beloved Son although God is pure Spirit. And the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are one God.

    Sorry to digress from the girl altar boys and I beg to differ. In real life, God the Father is very important for the incarcerated population. 90 -95 % of them have no fathers to nurture them when they were growing up. Someone told me of a study which showed that the presence of the father of a family at Sunday Masses is a better predictor of the children’s keeping their faith as adults.

    Christ, who redeemed the world, sanctifies it through the Church. If the liturgy is confusing it does affect the
    results and She will not be as effective as a teacher. Prior to Vatican II our Holy Mother Church taught us Latin, beautiful art, music, architecture, proper manners and so on for FREE. There’s refinement and dignity in the liturgy.

    In response to your facetious comments on men cleaning the sanctuary and arranging the flowers, I LOL. Definitely girls can do the cleaning of the sanctuary, arranging the flowers, and taking care of the linens if they are interested in contributing to the Church. These jobs are NOT demeaning at all to girls and being an altar server is NOT necessarily “empowering” either. As per Benedictine spirituality cleaning the sanctuary and arranging the flowers are manual and menial works which are conducive to meditation and contemplation especially after Mass is over when everything is quiet. These are infrastructure jobs which are indispensable as a mother’s jobs. In order to say Mass priests require clean sanctuary and altar linens.
    This year is my sixteenth year taking care of the linens of our parish church. In the meantime three pastors have come and go and one was ordained a bishop. From the humble job of the linen laundress I have become good friends with them. In Catholicism one needs to descend in order to ascend spiritually. It is the hidden life of Our Lady. I have three boys who were altar boys and three girls who never were altar girls. The girls cleaned the sanctuary and arranging flowers when they were very young. Lo and behold, the three girls are now a lawyer(JD), a medical doctor(MD) who joined a convent in her sixth year currently, and a Ph.D in Bioinformatics.
    Priests need much help from women and girls and there are many choices and roles for them in Church.
    Holy Mother Church is correct to have altar boys only:)!

    Peishan, M.D.

  • Jeannine

    Yes, they are in decline, except for those orders where the sisters wear a habit, are orthodox, and do not serve as altar servers but maybe read the readings, responsorial psalms, & petitions during Mass. 

  • SteveDelaney

    So, women are not excluded from one of the sacraments, but it is not available to them.  Isn’t that the definition of “excluded”?  No, everyone does not have a right to all seven sacraments, but while men are theoretically able to receive all seven, women are theoretically and practically able to receive only six.  This is not a matter of opinion.  No amount of theological/symbolic/poetic posturing can obscure that fact.  

    Motherhood is not available to men, nor fatherhood to women.  Those are facts of biology, not theological beliefs.  What they have to do with this discussions is beyond me.  

  • SteveDelaney

    The Church has restated its position on contraception many times, yet it has not been accepted by the majority of the faithful in the USA.  Catholics are only obligated to beliefs the dogmas of the faith and the infallible statements.  Trying to squash discussion of issues of concern to today’s Catholics by urging submission and obedience, as if the hierarchy could not make mistakes, does nothing to deepen belief or encourage young people to take the Church seriously. 

  • SteveDelaney

    No one doubts that your service was appreciated, or that your sons and daughters served the church with dignity.  However, you have said nothing about the essential point that some roles are forbidden to women and girls.  

  • SteveDelaney

    And did not Jesus come for all sinners, male and female?  
    And does not St. Paul tell us that in Christ there is neither male nor female, slave not free, Jew nor Greek?

    Exactly what is it about the priesthood that requires a penis that you promise not to use? 

  • SteveDelaney

    Oh, your comment is ignorant on so many levels its  hard to know where to start.  You are equating homosexuality with pedophilia, when they are not the same thing.  You say “infested with homosexuals” as if they are not children of God, just like you.  

    You are ignorant.

  • SteveDelaney

    I’m 53 years old and I’ve been hearing the argument about worship bands, “young people’s music”, etc. for forty years.  This is dealing with church matters on a superficial level.   We could have full pews every Sunday if we gave the kids sugar, gave the teen entertainment and gave the adults money, but what would anyone learn?

  • SteveDelaney

    Sure, why not?  And while we are at it, let us give the kiddies sugar and tell the adults God wants them to have money.  Why not have a pounding rock beat greeting everyone at the door, followed by a praise chorus repeated fifty times and a light show too?  Why not bring in a few celebrities to give us a little “lite theology” rather than those old-fashioned readings?   Why doesn’t the priest entertain us with Jesus jokes and rainbow vestments?  Why not ditch all that traditional music, bring in a couple of bands and turn up the bass?  Why not tell people there is no down side to Christianity, that God rewards the virtuous with money, and getting as much as you can is what its all about?  

  • SteveDelaney

    Worship bands are not part of the Catholic liturgy?  Have you been to mass in any one of thousands of suburban parishes lately?  Worship bands have been part of masses for almost twenty years.  You are naive. 

  • Rolando Rodriguez, SFO

    Never forget, always remember, our triune God asked the blessed virgin Mary if she willed to collaborate, to work with, to become the co-Redemptrix.  Mary said “yes,” and that is how God’s will is being fulfilled… Venga Tu Reino, venga por Maria.  Please always recall that God said, “Fiat lux!”  Mary just said “Fiat!”

  • Incredibilist

    In Thomas Hardy’s ‘Jude the Obscure’ Jude overhears two Oxford clergymen arguing about whether the eastward position is the “correct” one for celebrating the Eucharist. Jude/Hardy’s comment is ‘Good God! The eastward position and all creation groaning.’ The fact that one could even consider it worthwhile to discuss whether girls should serve at the altar – and 204 comments should come in – is a sure sign of how utterly immature Western religion is after 2,000 years.

  • EditorCT

    What difference does it make?  Obviously, we need the sacrament of Holy Orders to ordain priests. Since Christ instituted the Sacraments and made it plain He didn’t want women priests, what is your point? 

    Your problem is that you are arguing, in all of your posts, on the basis of the modern view of “human rights”

    Unfortunately for you, Christ didn’t base His Church on any article of any Human Rights Charter.

    That, my friend, is your major problem. 

  • EditorCT

    Nobody who deliberately flouts God’s law is a “child of God.”  Until they repent, confess, make amends and determine not to commit that sin again, they are an unrepentant sinner.  And if they are doing their utmost to have their sin accepted and condoned by the Church, they are an obstinate unrepentant sinner.

  • EditorCT

    And while we’re at it, why don’t we explain why the Sacrament of Holy Orders is only available to men and actually educate them in the Faith so they don’t make idiots of themselves on Catholic blogs, showing their ignorance and acting like the Pope is the Head of the United Nations at prayer.  Just a thought…

  • EditorCT

    The youth have been abandoned by so called Catholic educators and priests more interested in being popular than with preaching the undiluted Catholic Faith. Teach them the whole body of Catholic doctrine properly and systematically as the Church requires, and they will be so imbued with the truths of salvation that they wouldn’t dream of going near a pop Mass let alone an outdoor pop concert masquerading doubling as a Mass with bells on.

  • EditorCT

    Final sentence should read: “masquerading OR doubling as a Mass with bells on…”

  • EditorCT

    Whether or not the infallible teaching of the Church on contraception (or anything else) has been “accepted” by Catholics in the USA or anywhere else, does not change the fact that it is God’s will that when you reply to the question “will you accept children lovingly from God?” before your marriage ceremony goes ahead in a  Catholic Church, that you answer honestly.  The gravity of the sin of contraception has been made clear since the earliest times.  Just because it has become the norm in western societies (disintegrating before our eyes) doesn’t change the truth of the Church’s perennial teaching on the sinfulness of contraception.

    The hierarchy can make mistakes but when the Pope repeats a teaching always held by the Church, to be held by all the faithful everywhere, that is God speaking to us and He never makes mistakes.

  • EditorCT

     This error that “we” are the Church seems to be so widespread that I wonder if anybody believes that Christ IS the Church – as Cardinal Newman said “The Church is the Christian dispensation” – the Church and Christ are one. Christ is the head of His visible body the Church, His Vicar on earth, our spiritual ruler (extent and limitations of papal authority properly understood) and we are the members.  A far cry from the rebellious “we are Church” which usually translates in spiritual-speak as the Satanic “we will not serve.”

  • Londonistar

    I figured they were in decline.

  • Inquisator

    If you could only but hear yourselves.  All fiddling while Rome burns!

  • Inquisator

    Women, alongside their male Church colleagues, share the honour of proclaiming the Word of the living God to the gathered faithful and/or distributing the Body and Blood of Christ made present to the faithful for the very nourishment of their souls. Yet for some quirky strange reason they cannot hold a lavabo bowl of water to wash ‘Father’s’ hands, or carry a wooden or metal representation of Jesus on a processional cross, or hold a book containing the rubrics and prayers of the Mass for ‘Father’.  

    And before you go off on one, just read again my first sentence in order to understand the message it is conveying. If you can understand my point, then any further remarks about female altar servers will cease to have any further import whatsoever.  

  • Fr William R. Young

    We have never had girls serving at the altar in Barking. When I took over a neighbouring parish, due to the shortage of priests, I thanked the girls who had been serving there, and explained at Mass that I would be returning to the tradition of only men and boys serving Mass there too. There were complaints, but we now rarely have fewer than 4 or 5 boys serving Mass in at Ilford Lane. There are also signs in both parishes of boys and young men showing interest in a vocation to the priesthood.
    Fr William Young..

  • EditorCT

    I’m glad you emphasized the need to read your first sentence to  make sense of the rest of your post because it is in your first sentence that they key flaw in your position shows.

    Women should not be doing ANYTHING in the sanctuary during Mass or any other liturgy. 

    Read my second sentence again to see why I’m not explicitly  responding to the rest of your pro-girl altar boys at Mass.

  • EditorCT

    And Rome is burning because women are fiddling around the sanctuary.  Once the correct order of lay and clerical vocations is restored, along with everything else that doesn’t need the adjective “new” in front of it, we can talk about what we should be talking about, as Catholics, how to become holy and pleasing to God. Not, how can we all play at  being priests  and still have a “congregation” in the pews.

  • EditorCT

    So, you wouldn’t bother with a sacrament for ordination of priests?  Strange.

  • EditorCT

    I received a Disquis alert to a post from you containing a crude naming of a male body part, which is probably why it’s been removed. 

    I wanted to respond to it because in that post you refer to St Paul’s teaching that “in Christ there is no male or female…”

    This is the classic feminist quote trotted out regularly to support the daft power-crazed  attempts to get “equality” in the sanctuary for women.

    Breaking News:  St Paul was not referring to “human rights” when he said that there is no male or female in Christ… He was teaching that everyone – man, woman and  child – has equal access to the graces needed for sanctity.

    Not at all the same as saying that men and women should be allowed to DO the same things in the Church. 

  • croixmom

    My point was that worship bands are a protestant and secular abomination.  They are NOT part of the Catholic liturgy.
    The purpose of worship bands is to entertain and to take attention off the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.  They are not part of Catholic liturgy.

  • Anonymous

    Fr Young, are you not a little worried about a young man who shows an interest in a vocation to the priesthood who would not, according the argument proposed by yourself and Dr Oddie, have shown that interest if there had been female altar servers?

  • croixmom

    Patrick, you are a fool.

  • Anonymous

    “Any priest who reads this can start on Sunday” Rest assured, Dr Oddie, I will not be starting on this Sunday or any Sunday.  And despite or perhaps because of all of the supposedly infallible pontificating, one day we will have women priests.   

  • EditorCT

    Excellent, Father.  I’ve known of priests who did the same with Extraordinary Minister of Communion and had a very hard time of it as  a result.  In one case, where the priest had taken over from an out and out “liberal” the women offered to continue their little “tradition” of giving Father an extra day off from Mass, substituting their Eucharistic Service instead.  When the new (faithful) priest declined and said he would be saying Mass every day, day off included, they trotted off to “worship” at the local Episcopalian church.

    You truly couldn’t make it up.

  • EditorCT

    Your defiance is breathtaking.  I’d love to hear your opinion on the SSPX – that would be a laugh-a-minute (you being a de facto schismatic pontificating on the falsely accused of same) – but I’d miss my train.

     Oh and, by the way, if you think there will ever be women priests, you need help.  We need women priests about as  much as we need more priests like you.

  • Torquemada

    “Let’s be honest: Vocations to the priesthood began slipping in the late 1950′s . . . way before 1994.”

    Keeping that honesty theme, Matthew, you are wrong. Vocations were flourishing until Vatican II – in America. What country do you live in?

  • sclerotic

    You choose to ordain men, not women, therefore the number 7 goes with the men, the number 6 with the women – though, of course, before God there is neither male nor female. It’s worth bearing in mind that the number of sacraments was not settled until the eleventh century so somebody did some choosing, somewhere.

  • Torquemada

    In that case, Michael, I invite you to our SSPX parish in Cincinnati, Ohio – which is not only quite full, but full to the brim with young families, children, babies, teenagers (many of whom sing Gregorian chant). Start imagining something different: the Catholic Faith of old, untouched by the perversity and deceit of Vatican II, the “evil council.”

  • EditorCT

    Christ (1st century)  instituted the Sacraments.  Please explain how you arrive at the false belief that they were not instituted until the 11th century.  Think carefully before you respond: think of your “11th century” allegation as a nut and remember that I’m standing over my computer with a sledgehammer, awaiting your answer. 

    St Paul said that in Christ there is no  male or female, by which he taught that everyone has equal access to God’s grace.  A wee housewife in a remote corner of darkest Glasgow will receive all the graces she needs to make her a saint.  Ditto the equally wee nun in the convent (if you can still find one) and the same goes for Fathers X, Y and Z in their presbyteries or religious houses.  Nobody will lack  the grace they need because of their gender or race.  Doesn’t mean that everyone has a “right” to DO a particular task in the Church. That’s wacky, shallow UN-theological thinking.  Put simply, and of course charitably, it’s Theology for the Brain Dead.

    Reminder: why the 11th century?


  • Robert DD

    I’m afraid I find William’s original argument less than convincing.  In his own parish in Oxford, which does not allow female servers, there are only a handful of altar servers under the age of 16, covering five Sunday masses between them.  There are a lot of older servers, however.  If the PP allowed female servers, I doubt any of those boys would drop out, but it might reduce the pressure on them a bit.  I speculate, but perhaps having female altar servers would be good for vocations to the female religious life?

    There seems only the slightest anecdotal evidence that having girl servers reduces priestly vocations, and I don’t see how one can screen out the other variables, such as crashing mass attendances in most parishes, the majority of children at catholic schools not going to mass on Sundays, and parental concerns about letting their boys alone into the sacristy, or (looking forwards) about their sons living potentially very lonely lives as priests.